Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Former champion jockey Dick Cardenas highlighted yesterday's 10-race programme at Caymanas Park with three winners to move on the heels of early leader, newly crowned champion Dane Nelson.
The Panamanian jockey signalled his intention from the very first race when booting home 5-2 chance AVENTURA for trainer Gresford Smith to a decisive victory over the fast-finishing 3-5 favourite DEO VOLENTE with Nelson aboard, at a mile.
Cardenas came back to win the following race aboard sparingly raced 2012 Oaks winner EXOTIC GOLD (4-5 favourite) for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta, before closing out the the three-timer aboard 4-5 favourite JACK DE CHARMER for DaCosta in the sixth race over 1100 metres.
The 2011 champion jockey barely missed out on a four-timer in the fifth where the American-bred 5-y-o mare LUMINOUS TRIESTE (10-1) failed by a short head to stave off 5-2 chance ASHES TO ASHES with Paul Francis aboard.
In this race, the previously unbeaten native bred 3-y-o gelding UNCLE TAF was installed a 4-5 favourite to make it three in a row, but having to settle for fourth after holding every chance approaching the distance.
four wins for Cardenas
With yesterday's windfall, Cardenas has pushed his early season tally to four wins to join the apprentices Shamaree Muir and Prince Holder and four-time champion Omar Walker jointly in second - one behind Nelson, who failed to ride a winner on the 10-race programme.
Muir, the champion apprentice, rode two winners in the even-money favourites SACHIN and SAHARA in the fourth and 10th races, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Gary Subratie-trained MINNIE SUNSHINE, running at odds of 5-2 with André Martin aboard, made most to win the Eight Thirty Sprint over the straight, this for native bred three-year-old fillies, by 1 3/4 lengths from 4-5 favourite RHEA'S A SUPERSTAR in a field of six. She is owned by W.B. Racing.
Apprentice Damion Brown, who had had only seven rides to date, notched his first win aboard 4-1 chance THE SMOKER in the seventh race over 1200 metres for $180,000 claimers.
A past student of Greater Portmore High, Brown, 25, who is apprenticed to his grandfather, trainer Everal Francis, rode the 10-y-o grey gelding for trainer Norman Smith and owner Kirk Ramsay, the Arnett Gardens Premier League football captain.